Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and other opposition MPs in Parliament in June, the first of two times for this year. (IWN photo)

Opposition Members of Parliament turned up to Parliament on Thursday for the first time since they were sworn in on Dec. 29.

The opposition legislators had been staying away from Parliament in protest of the results of the Dec. 9, 2015 general elections, which their New Democratic Party (NDP) has accused the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) of stealing.

Speaking during the Congratulatory Remarks session of Thursday’s meeting, Minister of Transport and Works, Sen. Julian Francis, said:

“It would be remiss of me if I don’t congratulate the members of the opposition for finally accepting the wishes of the person who voted for them to sit in this parliament and I congratulated them for coming back to the Parliament today.”

Francis is also General Secretary of the ULP and was the party’s campaign manager in the December polls.

The opposition turned up to Parliament on a day when High Court judge Justice Brian Cottle would deliver a judgement in which he threw out the two election petitions the NDP had filed, challenging the results of the election.

The hearing in that matter had taken place one week earlier and Cottle had said he would have put aside the other matters he was working on to focus on the case.

On June 1, Clerk of the House of Assembly Nicole Herbert wrote to the opposition MPs informing them that should they continue to stay away from meetings of Parliament without excuse, their seats would have become vacant.

Standing Order 74(2) says: “If any Senator or Elected Member is absent from the House for more than three consecutive meetings without the leave of the Speaker obtained in writing before the expiration of that period, the Clerk shall, immediately after the third such meeting direct the attention of the Member concerned to the provisions of this Order. If the Member continues to be absent for the next three meetings then, unless before the expiration of the last of those meetings the Member has obtained the leave of the Speaker in writing or unless the House upon motion made without notice has granted him leave of absence, he shall vacate his seat under section 29 (3) (a) of the Constitution.”

In its efforts to force opposition MPs to come to Parliament, the government has tabled a bill that would allow the state to deduct monies from the salaries of MPs who, without excuse, absent themselves from meetings of the House of Assembly.

The bill, which has received its first reading, has been sent to a select committee of Parliament.

NDP’s election petitions struck out 

6 replies on “Opposition MPs attend Parliament for first time in 6 months”

  1. I have not observed how parliament in SVG works. Tell me if I am wrong:
    Whatever party has the majority controls all matters that come before parliament.

    I then ask: What is the reason for the opposition to ever go to parliament when any input they may have can be completely ignored at the whim of whoever is in charge of the government? What purpose does the opposition have other then stating an opinion after the fact, when the ruling party has already made their plans?

    1. The opposition is also there to keep the government in check, not only by voting against bad bills that can have an adverse effects on the population but they can also be the eye and ear for the public for things like, bills, contracts, etc that government is trying to pass through the back door.

      1. In other words they have no more power than I-witness news, or The News Newspaper. Since the majority party ALWAYS has enough votes to pass anything they want, the Opposition party has the power to cry about it afterwards. There must be some matters that require a 2/3 vote, whereby the opposition only then has any decision-making power. Seems most of the time there is no point in them being there.

      2. Vincentian there is nothing at all that the opposition can do to stop the government from passing a Bill because they have the majority in voting for such Bills. Remember all that goes on in parliament is recorded in Hansard which can be read by anyone. The problem is SVG Hansard’s written recording is months behind in publication.

        So Vincentian they do not need to pass anything through the backdoor they can bring anything through the front door that they wish. Remember in the past they have changed laws to make illegal acts by their members legal. So my friend they can do what they like when they like with no control or input from the opposition needed.

        Lost Pet there is nothing in everyday working of parliament and the passing of Bills that require 2/3rds majority of the house votes. They will put through whatever they propose unapposed. The ULP government have the house majority and that is all that counts.

        The NDP do have more rights than I-Witness news they can call names and make statements in parliament that cannot be done outside parliament without being sued. Also their objection are recorded in Hansard for future history readers to see exactly what went on.

  2. C. ben-David says:

    What was actually gained by boycotting parliament besides disenfranchising the electorate and perverting democracy?

  3. I dare say Francis was sick as a pig when Eustace read the cheque papers to them.

    Gonsalves almost burst his boiler also.

    I was wondering today if in fact Julian Francis is the actual prime minister and Gonsalves is simply his lawyer.

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